BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Following the SEA Games gold medal match ticket fiasco, hosts Malaysia U23 are set to lose their home advantage, as their hardcore fans the Ultras Malaya has decided to give the match a miss altogether.
In a Twitter post, the fiery group of supporters announced the decision, citing the need for solidarity with many of the home fans who could not get the final match tickets due to the SEA Games organisers' decision to not sell them online.
The organisers' decision led to many to start queueing up for the tickets on late Sunday night at the match venue and where the tickets are sold the Shah Alam Stadium, immediately after the announcement was made public.
On Monday afternoon, the fans erupted at the stadium, forcing the police to intervene and keep peace. Up until 7pm Monday, fans were still gathering at the stadium hoping that extra tickets would be made available.
The ultras then made another post; urging those who failed to get tickets to the final, to instead save their money to join them at the Malaysia senior team's Asian Cup qualifiers match against Hong Kong next week, to be played in Melaka on September 5.
"Those who failed to get tickets, save your money for next week's Asian Cup qualifying match. Let's throng the Hang Jebat Stadium!"
Yang mana gagal dapatkan tiket esok, kumpul duit anda untuk dibawa ke minggu depan untuk match asia cup. Ayuh penuhkan stadium hang jebat! — اولتراس ملايا 07 (@ultrasmalaya07) August 28, 2017
In a longer statement, the group explained the decision was not taken because of their failure to get tickets. However, it is to make a statement about the poor ticketing system that has failed the fans.
"Ultras Malaya will not officially open our curva for tomorrow's final match, as a sign of solidarity with our comrades and the other supporters who came from far and near to get tickets, but failed to purchase any because of the poor ticket sale system implemented by the organisers."
The 20,000-strong ultras group has been one of the driving forces behind Malaysia's succesful run in the tournament, leading the home fans' cheers during matches.
Head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee and his charges too has credited the group's support for them, and the players would pay respect to the ultras by celebrating near them after every match.